5 Unusual and Quirky Things to do in Paris

Author: Nicole

Paris has some great, unusual but interesting places to see- not just the worldwide famous monuments! Here are 5 you may wish to explore.

Paris has some of the most well-known monuments in the world. But what if you want to see something a bit more unusual, quirky, you know- off-the-beaten track? Places that most tourists are not that familiar with? Then you’ve reached the right page! 

The truth is, Paris has many hidden little treasures that are totally worth visiting. I have put together a list of 5 of my favorites (although there are definitely many more). Some of these are quite eerie. Most of them are unusual, but I do think they’re all worth checking out.

Here are my favorite 5 unusual places you can see in Paris:

Les catacombes

This is in my opinion one of the coolest places to see in the city. This is an underground experience where 6 million corpses are held. (If you are freaked out by skulls and bones, then maybe you can skip this one, or if you are claustrophobic). 

You’re probably wondering why these Catacombs even exist- I mean it all sounds a bit morbid right? Well, in the late 18th century, the cemeteries in Paris were overcrowded and people living near them became sick with infectious diseases due to the terrible hygiene. That’s when it was decided that the remaining bones in the cemeteries would be moved underground: out of the way and to make more space in cemeteries.

And so now there is an eerie but fascinating display of millions of bones arranged in many narrow passages. But there are not only ossuaries- some of the walls are decorated with inscriptions which are pretty spooky. 

Walking through the catacombs will take you approximately one hour and tickets are usually sold-out weeks in advance, so make sure to book online!

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Explore Parisian flea markets

Paris is known as the perfect city for luxurious shopping trips, but it can also be a heaven for flea market lovers. Don’t be put off by the name ‘flea market’ – it certainly doesn’t do them any justice.

There are several in the city, but the most well-known one is definitely the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen. It is only open on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays (at certain times). 

Antique market stall with vintage items and shoppers.

There are things on sale like antique tapestries, vintage items, old uniforms and weapons, collectibles, and so many other things. I could be here all day listing what’s on offer.

This place is perfect for ‘window shopping’. It is actually the world’s biggest antique market! It’s a world of its own. (I was told that a lot of pickpocketing happens at this market – although I didn’t have this experience, I thought I would just make you aware!)

If you’re looking for a smaller Parisian flea market, I would recommend “les Puces de Vanves”: great deals to be made there, and your chance to discover another very authentic French neighborhood.

La Petite Ceinture

Here’s an urban treasure for you: Translated as ‘the Little Belt’, this is another unusual, cool, hidden side of Paris. La Petite Ceinture is a former railway line that used to serve different parts of Paris.

When the metro was built, the circular railway became a lot less used, and eventually, it stopped operating altogether. Now it is used as a walking trail. 

Though it sounds unusual, it is a pretty cool walk. Some parts of the abandoned track have been completely taken over by nature – trees, wild plants, moss: a bit jungle-like.

Other parts are covered in really beautiful graffiti (great for artists). You will be amazed at the silence you can find there!

You can access it via various arrondissements (though it is worth googling how to access it depending on where you are in Paris).

Tips: wear comfortable walking shoes and know that some of the tunnels are dark and long. Take a flashlight with you!

Also, I wouldn’t do this experience alone (as some parts of it are dark and abandoned) so go with someone or with a group of friends first, and know which part you can go to safely at any time, and which parts are more iffy.

Visit the Sainte- Chapelle, a hidden gem

I am honestly amazed that this isn’t considered one of Paris’ best monuments! Maybe it can’t be considered ‘unusual’ but it is certainly unknown by many tourists. It really is a hidden jewel. Located in the Île de la Cité, this is a church where the Kings of France lived up until the 14th Century. 

From the outside, it looks fairly simple- a tall spire and some large windows, gothic in appearance. Inside, there are two levels. The upper level is jaw-droppingly beautiful. The walls on all the sides of the upper level are displayed in stained-glass. The colors blend together creating an ethereal effect.

It is difficult to describe how beautiful it is, but maybe some of these pictures can give you an idea:

I would describe the Sainte-Chapelle as unmissable.

P.S:  Would recommend going on a sunny day so that you can really appreciate the beauty of the stained-glass!

Visit the Père Lachaise cemetery

Who would want to visit a cemetery? Well… apparently loads of people. 

Located in the 20th Arrondissement, this is one of Paris’ most interesting monuments. Strolling through it will give you a lesson about France’s (and others’) cultural heritage because it has many famous people buried there. For example: Balzac, Marcel Proust, Édith Piaf and Chopin.

This cemetery attracts millions of people every year. It has been described as ‘hauntingly beautiful’. The pathways are made up of cobblestones and the trees give it a peaceful effect. (It almost feels like you are no longer in the city). You can also admire some of the gorgeous tomb stones and statues, and some are truly masterpieces.

The entrance is free, which is fab. There are other cemeteries in Paris where famous figures of French history lie: Montparnasse and Montmartre.

Have you ever discovered any other quirky or unusual places in Paris you would recommend visiting?

Author: Nicole


I'm a language tutor and freelance writer from London. I have always been interested in all things language and culture related, so I studied French and Portuguese at University. I spent half of my year abroad in Paris which was amazing! Now I'm spreading my love for languages through writing!

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